Influential Lawmaker Rep. Steve Wolens to Retire After 24 Years in Texas Legislature

December 3, 2003

One of Texas’ most respected and profilic lawmakers, State Representative Steve Wolens, today announced that he will not seek re-electoin upon completion of his current and twelfth term in the Texas Legislature, following a distinguished career in which he authored landmark legislation shaping business, ethics, education, law enforcement, regulatory, consumer, fiscal and environmental issues.

Mr. Wolens, senior member of the Dallas delegation, has represented the city for 23 years in Austin. First elected in 1980, the Dallas Democrat has earned high marks from colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his legislative acumen, debate skills, bill authorship and intricate knowledge of complex business and regulatory issues, House rules and legislative procedures. He served for many years as the chairman of the powerful State Affairs and Business and Commerce Committees, and was named this session by the new Republican Speaker of the House as Chairman of the Select Committee on Ethics.

“I have a great love of the law and this wonderful institution, with its traditions of civility, bipartisanship, and statesmanlike discourse,” Wolens said. “During my twenty-three years in the Legislature, I have worked hard to ensure that Texans have a strong business climate, affordable energy, safer streets, educational opportunity, clean air and water and government we can trust. Working with my colleagues, governors and statwide officials of both parties, I have been blessed with the opportunity to make a real difference in my state and pass good laws which served as blueprints for business growth, energy deregulation, and regulatory governance for the rest of the nation. One cannot ask for more from an honorable career in public life, so this is a good time for me to focus on my family, the private sector, and the policy agenda I can continue to advocate as a citizen of our great state.”

During his twelve sessions in the Legislature, Wolens was named one of the “Ten Best Legislators” in the state by Texas Monthly Magazine six times. He was also named an “Outstanding Legislator” by Texas Business Magazine, and the Texas Association of Realtors made him a member of their “Legislative Hall of Fame.”

For three sessions, Common Cause awarded him its Public Service Award. Twice, he was named “Legislative Crime Fighter of the Year” by the Greater Dallas Crime Commission. He was also named “Legislator of the Year” in 1999 by both the National Retail Federation and the Texas Municipal League, and again in 2001 by the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. In 2003, AARP of Texas honored him as the “Outstanding Legislator” of the session.

Wolens authored, shaped and engineered passage of dozens of important legislative initiatives during his tenure in the Texas House. Most recently, he passed landmark ethics and election reforms in 2003, clean air legislation in 2001, electric deregulation in 1999, and a constitutional amendment on home equity in 1997. In 1981, he successfully authored the tax increment financing law and constitutional amendment widely used in Texas for economic development.

Rep. Wolens also passed numerous bills to ensure public safety, including the “Two Strikes and You’re Out” Law for repeat sex offenders, reforms to deter drunk driving, and heightened penalties for hit-and-run drivers, prostitution, and barratry (i.e. incitement to litigation by attorneys soliciting clients).

A strong supporter of education, Mr. Wolens has repeatedly championed the UT Southwestern Medical Center for twenty years and been a strong advocate for UT Dallas and UT Arlington. He also worked to protect homeowners in home equity loans, mortgage disputes, and insurance matters. A supporter of Dallas, he has successfully sponsored legislation in support of Parkland Hospital, DART, Fair Park, and most recently funding for a convention center hotel.

Mr. Wolens is a partner at the Baron & Budd law firm in Dallas, and is married to Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. They have three children – Alex, Lily, and Max.

A complete list of legislative accomplishments can be found here